Fri, 25 Sep 2020

US Will Work to Extend Iran Arms Embargo

Voice of America
15 Aug 2020, 04:05 GMT+10

VIENNA - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday before a U.N. vote on whether to extend the Iranian arms embargo that Iran is the world's leading promoter of terrorism and must not be allowed to buy or sell weapons with other countries.

"We're going to do everything we can within our diplomatic tool kit to stop that from happening," Pompeo said at a news conference in Vienna, Austria.

Pompeo's remarks came after he met with International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi and before a U.N. Security Council vote in New York on a U.S. resolution to indefinitely extend the arms embargo on Iran.

Results of the council vote are to be disclosed later Friday. The council is expected to reject the resolution because of a lack of support from Europe, China and Russia.

"We're urging the whole world to join us," Pompeo said. "This isn't about the JCPOA. This is about whether the world is going to allow Iran to buy and sell weapons systems."

The arms embargo on Iran is due to expire in October under terms of the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan, also known as the Iran nuclear deal, from which U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew in 2018.

Pompeo is on a weeklong trip to central and eastern Europe at a time when the Trump administration looks to confront Russian and Chinese economic and geopolitical competition in Europe. Before his trip ends Friday, Pompeo would have visited the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Austria and Poland.

5G technology

Pompeo visited Slovenia on Thursday, where he and his Slovenian counterpart Anze Logar signed a joint declaration on 5G technology.

State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said the memorandum of understanding signed Thursday recognizes "the critical importance of 5G security - both within NATO and the EU."

She tweeted that "Slovenia joins a growing community of nations dedicated to protecting their security, privacy and intellectual property."

Over the past year, European countries, including Poland, Estonia and the Czech Republic, have signed agreements with the United States pledging that 5G suppliers would not be subject to control by a foreign government without independent judicial review, which effectively excludes Chinese firms.

Pompeo's visit to Slovenia is the first by a U.S. secretary of state since 2011.

Relations with China

During his visit Wednesday to the Czech Republic, Pompeo said that China's economic power is in some ways a greater global threat than the Soviet Union was during the Cold War.

"The challenge of resisting the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) threat is in some ways more difficult," Pompeo said in a speech to the senate in the Czech Republic. "The CCP is already enmeshed in our economies, in our politics, in our societies in ways the Soviet Union never was."

Pompeo's remarks came after China's ambassador to London accused the United States last month of instigating conflict with Beijing before the November U.S. presidential election. 

U.S.-China relations have deteriorated sharply this year over issues such as Beijing's management of the coronavirus, its security clampdown in Hong Kong and activities in the disputed South China Sea.

Other topics

Pompeo held talks with Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis in Prague earlier Wednesday on the second day of his weeklong visit to central Europe.

The two leaders discussed nuclear energy cooperation and the Three Seas Initiative, a political platform to promote connectivity among nations in central and eastern Europe by supporting infrastructure, energy and digital interconnectivity projects.

The trip comes as the Pentagon prepares to move forward with a plan to pull almost 12,000 troops from Germany and redeploy part of the U.S. forces to Poland and other NATO nations, raising concerns at home and in Europe even as senior officials defend it as a strategic necessity.

Pompeo discussed with his counterparts the just-completed U.S.-Poland Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

The defense deal enables the United States for "rotational presence" of an additional 1,000 U.S. troops to "enhance deterrence against Russia, strengthen NATO," and to assure allies, officials say. About 4,500 U.S. personnel are already on rotation in Poland.

Wayne Lee contributed to this report.

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